Augusta, NJ – The 2019 Can-Am League Regular Season Champion Sussex County Miners announce the acquisition of outfielder Isaac Benard and left-handed pitchers Mike Castellani and Cam Hatch from the Florence Y’alls in exchange for infielder/outfielder Jose Brizuela.
“Anytime you make a trade like this you aim to get back depth and I think we yielded a solid return. I have a relationship with Isaac’s dad, Marvin, from when I played against him. His father was gritty and I hope Isaac will be too,” Sussex County Miners manager Bobby Jones said. “Castellani knows how to pitch. He throws strikes and I think he will do well in our park which is a pitcher’s park. I saw Cam work out at Sussex [Champions Way] and he threw the ball well. He has a good body, good stuff and as long as he throws strikes and attacks the hitters I think he will be good for us.”
A product of the Tampa Bay Rays organization, Benard is a four-year veteran who brings a table-setting skill set to the Sussex County Miners lineup. Hailing from West Richland, Washington, the 24-year old outfielder ranked sixth in the Frontier League in assists (6) and led the Y’alls with 97 hits while batting .280 (3rd on the team) with five home runs and 45 RBIs. He also excelled in situational hitting as illustrated by the breakdown below:
- When leading off: .271, 1 HR, 8 RBI
- Runners on base: .297, 3 HR, 42 RBI
- Runners in scoring position: .303, 1 HR, 36 RBI
- Runners in scoring position/2 outs: .267, 1 HR, 18 RBI
Along with being selected to play for the Nicaraguan National Baseball Team for the 2019 Pan American Games, Benard was the Y’alls top hitter during the 2019 Frontier League Playoffs with a .423 batting average (11-26) Drafted by the Rays from Mount Hood Community College in the 23rd of the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft, he played two seasons in the Tampa Bay chain with stints for the Princeton Rays (Rookie, Appalachian League) and Hudson Valley Renegades (New York-Penn League, Short Season Single-A). Following his release by the Rays organization on March 30, 2018, Benard was signed by the Traverse City Beach Bums. Isaac is the son of San Francisco Giants outfielder Marvin Benard. Playing in Majors from 1995-2003, Marvin was a career .271 hitter with 54 homers, 260 RBIs and 105 stolen bases.
Hailing from Avon Connecticut, Castellani forged a stellar 2019 campaign for the Y’alls. The 24-year old southpaw anchored the starting rotation by going 9-2 with a 2.66 ERA while pitching 128.2 innings and tallying 25 walks and 72 strikeouts. He finished among the Frontier League leaders in wins (2nd), winning percentage (.818, 3rd), innings pitched (4th) and ERA (6th). Castellani proved to be a benchmark of consistency and durability for the starting rotation. Not only were the Y’alls 13-5 in his starts, but he also logged 10 quality starts and kept his ERA below 3.10 (3.03 to be exact) from May 22 through the end of the season. Furthermore, he pitched six innings or more in 15 of his 18 starts including six seven-inning plus starts and five eight-inning plus outings. Saving his best for the Frontier League Playoffs, Castellani went 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA over 20 innings pitched while only yielding one walk and posting 15 strikeouts. He made his pro debut with Florence in 2018 when he was a swingman for the Y’alls pitching staff and went 2-1 with a 3.50 ERA over 36 innings with 11 walks and 41 strikeouts. He played four seasons of collegiate baseball Bucknell University from 2014-2017. Serving as a starter and a reliever with the Bisons, Castellani is among the school’s career leaders in wins (15, 7th), appearances (56, 8th), innings pitched (222.2, 9th) and 11th in ERA (3.64).
Hatch is a fellow left-handed pitcher from Connecticut (Vernon, CT) who brings a live arm to the Miners pitching staff. The 28-year old southpaw has three seasons of professional experience including two years in the Pacific Association with the Vallejo Admirals (2019) and Pittsburg Diamonds (2018) and one for the Utica Unicorns (2016 in the United Shore Professional Baseball League. Including one playoff appearance, Hatch is sporting a career record of 5-2 in 49 appearances and 58.2 innings pitched with 43 walks and 85 strikeouts. His best season thus far came with the Diamonds where he went 4-1 with a 2.53 ERA in 28 appearances while walking 22 and striking out 51 in 32 innings of work. He played three seasons of collegiate baseball at St. Edwards University (Austin, TX) from 2014-16 and redshirted at the University of Maryland in 2013.
“Jose was solid. It’s hard to trade a player like him,” Jones said. “He played with passion and fire and he definitely impacted our club last season. However, we’re very excited to see what we have and get ready for the upcoming season.”
Brizuela was a lightning rod for the Sussex County Miners’ lineup. Last year the 27-year old native from Maracay, Venezuela batted .302 with nine homers, 44 RBIs and 13 stolen bases while ranking among the Can-Am League leaders in outfield assists (5, 2nd), walks (63, 3rd) and on-base percentage (.426, 5th). Along with leading the club in homers and ranking second in on-base percentage, he also finished among the team leaders in slugging percentage (.488, 2nd), doubles (20, 3rd) and stolen bases (13, 4th). Riding the wave of a solid regular season campaign, Brizuela upped his ante for the Can-Am League Playoffs against the New York Boulders and New Jersey Jackals by hitting .385 (10-26) with two home runs and five RBIs. The Oakland A’s drafted Brizuela in the 16th round of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Florida State University where he was a career .323 hitter (140-434) with seven homers and 82 RBIs. After spending three seasons in the Athletics organization where he reached advanced Single-A (California League), he was signed by Florence Y’alls where he was signed twice to affiliated ball including the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets organizations in 2017 and 2018, respectively.